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Good cholesterol may not be what keeps the heart healthy

By themselves, higher levels of HDL don’t explain lower cardiovascular risk

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1:22pm, May 18, 2012

Some shine may have worn off “good” cholesterol’s halo. A new genetics study shows that merely raising levels of high-density lipoprotein — also known as HDL or good cholesterol — does not help protect against heart attacks.

The finding appears to contrast sharply with population studies showing that people with high levels of HDL have a lower than average risk of heart attack. But the results, published online May 17 in the Lancet, may mean that blood levels of good cholesterol serve as indicators of some other biological process that protects the heart, and that HDL itself is not directly involved in heart health.

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